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World Juniors

Hughes, projected No. 1 pick at 2019 NHL Draft, happy with USA Hockey

Center prospect opts against University of Michigan, says he's in 'best spot'

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

KAMLOOPS, British Columbia -- Jack Hughes, projected by many as the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, never wavered in his decision to continue his playing career at USA Hockey's National Team Development Program this season.

Hughes (5-foot-10, 166 pounds), a center, had 116 points (40 goals, 76 assists) with the U-17 and U-18 NTDP teams last season, one point shy of tying Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews for the single-season point record (117) set during his U-18 season in 2014-15. Hughes had 68 points (27 goals, 41 assists) in 36 games for the U-18.

"I just felt like the NTDP was the best spot for my development," Hughes said. "I love my teammates, my coaches, the resources and love being able to put on the USA jersey. I tell everyone no one trains as hard as us at the NTDP. We're working out in-season, skating four times a week, and playing games on top of that."

Hughes, 17, had the option of joining his brother, defenseman Quintin Hughes, at the University of Michigan. Quintin Hughes, 18, selected by the Vancouver Canucks in the first round (No. 7) of the 2018 NHL Draft, decided Saturday to return to Michigan for his sophomore season.

"I knew the NTDP was a great spot, and Michigan was a great spot as well," Jack Hughes said. "Quinn had really good success there and anytime I have a chance to play with Quinn it's really appealing. I took that into consideration, but I think the NTDP was the best spot."

Jack and Quintin are representing the United States at the World Junior Summer Showcase this week at Sandman Centre. The first round of cuts by USA Hockey is scheduled for Wednesday.

"I talked to him a bit before I made my decision to go back [to Michigan]," Quintin Hughes said. "Michigan worked for me, but that doesn't mean it would ultimately work for him. If you're a good enough player, no matter where you go, you'll find your way."

United States general manager John Vanbiesbrouck wasn't surprised by Jack's decision.

"He saw his bother go through a process and is content working on his game and developing as a player," Vanbiesbrouck said. "There's a great opportunity for him moving forward wearing the red, white and blue. We hope we keep him into it for a long time."


Iginla was 'full package'

Tim Hunter, coach of the Canada national junior team, played 11 of his 16 NHL seasons with the Calgary Flames. He was asked for his thoughts on former Flames captain Jarome Iginla, who announced his retirement on Thursday.

Iginla played 1,554 games for the Flames, Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings and finished with 1,300 points (625 goals, 675 assists).

"He was the full package; a really good hockey player," Hunter said. "He was a guy who could do almost everything, play on the power play, he was a power forward, had lots of touch, was a tough guy and wasn't afraid to drop the gloves. A real leader both on and off the ice. Being a former Calgary Flame, he had an incredible career."

Video: Looking back on Jarome Iginla's stellar career


Honka continues ascent

Anttoni Honka, 17, considers himself the best defenseman among four hockey-playing brothers.

The right-handed shot, expected to be a first-round pick in the 2019 draft, is the brother of Julius Honka (Dallas Stars), Aleksi Honka of Tour in France, and Valtteri Honka, who retired in 2016. 

Julius Honka (5-11, 186), 22, selected in the first round (No. 14) of the 2014 NHL Draft, has been the most successful Honka to this point, but Anttoni is closing the gap. The younger Honka is a part of Finland's roster at the World Junior Summer Showcase this week.

"I like to pass more and [Julius] likes to shoot more," Anttoni said. "I like to watch him skate because he's pretty fast. I also like that passion he shows; he enjoys the game so much."

Anttoni (5-10, 176) is expected to play a full season for JYP in Liiga this season after scoring nine points (two goals, seven assists) in 20 games in 2017-18. He was also named best defenseman in Finland's second division after scoring 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) in 28 games for U-20 JYP.

"[Anttoni Honka] is a smart hockey player who compensates for his lack of size with his skating and offensive instincts; he has an excellent understanding of the game," said Goran Stubb, NHL Director of European Scouting.


Ginning brings something different for Sweden

Sweden has a number of highly talented offensive defensemen at the World Junior Summer Showcase, including Adam Boqvist (Chicago Blackhawks) and Filip Johansson (Minnesota Wild).

Adam Ginning (Philadelphia Flyers) brings another element. At 6-foot-3, 196 pounds, he plays a physical, defensive game.

"I'm a little bit more of a defensive guy, little bit more physical," he said. "Let them take care of the offensive side and I take more care of the defense."

Ginning, 18, had two points (one goal, one assist) in 28 games with Linkoping in the Swedish Hockey League last season, and six points (one goal, five assists) in 17 games with Linkoping in Sweden's junior league. He's expected to play full-time in the SHL this season and possibly have a significant role with Sweden at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship.

"He's been looking now like he's one of our top shutdown defensemen, and he's maybe our first penalty killer as well," Sweden coach Tomas Monten said.

Ginning said his offseason goals are to improve his play with the puck and get faster, but he won't stray from his defensive role.

"You can't only have offensive defensemen, you need to have someone that is a little more defensive," he said. "And that's what I try to bring." deputy managing editor Adam Kimelman contributed to this report

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